Carnegie Mellon University

To study the current and future factors contributing to the technological viability, economic impact, and environmental consequences of fuel cell technologies

  • Amount $387,546
  • City Pittsburgh, PA
  • Investigator Jay Whitacre
  • Year 2016
  • Program Energy and Environment
  • Sub-program

Fuel cells, which use chemistry rather than combustion to generate electricity, have a wide range of potential applications, from large arrays that can be integrated into the electricity grid to small cells that can power vehicles. Experts in the field, however, remain uncertain about a number of important issues, including how efficient fuel cells will become, how much costs will drop, and to what degree hypothesized benefits will be achieved when fuel cells leave the lab and enter the real world. This grant supports an emerging cohort of scholars at Carnegie Mellon University’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation plan to clarify these uncertainties. A team led by Jay Whitacre will conduct an expansive literature review and background assessment, laying out the current state of development of various fuel cell technologies, their advantages, their drawbacks, and what is and is not known about each. The team will then undertake an in-depth expert elicitation process that utilizes surveys, in-person interviews, and group discussions to identify consensus and critical uncertainties associated with the different fuel cell technologies being studied. The iterative expert elicitation process will provide a method for aggregating this diverse array of expert perspectives and will result in a series of high-profile, peer-reviewed journal articles that will cover topics related both to stationary fuel cell applications and the use of fuel cells in transportation. The effort promises to clarify the current state of fuel cell research, identify gaps in our knowledge, and expose promising ways forward.

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